Induced abortion in Denmark: effect of socio-economic situation and country of birth

Eur J Public Health. 2008 Apr;18(2):144-9. doi: 10.1093/eurpub/ckm112. Epub 2007 Dec 7.


Background: Equal access to health care is considered a key in Scandinavian healthcare policy. However, problematic differences between the socio-economic situation of immigrants and that of native Scandinavians are increasingly challenging this aspect of the Scandinavian welfare model. The present study focuses on how socio-economic characteristics and country of birth are associated with induced abortion.

Methods: A structured questionnaire was used to collect information among 1351 women requesting abortion and a control group of 1306 women intending birth.

Results: The strongest factor associated with the decision to have an abortion was being single (OR 39.1; 23.8-64.2), followed by being aged 19 years or below (OR 29.6; 13.4-65.5), having two children or more (OR 7.05; 5.29-9.39) and being unskilled (OR 2.48; 1.49-4.10), student (OR 2.29; 1.52-3.43) or unemployed (OR 1.65; 1.11-2.46). When evaluating the effect of social exposure on abortion among Danish-born and foreign-born women, the higher rate of abortion among non-Westerners was found to be caused by the composition of non-Westerners more often being unemployed, having a low income and having two or more children rather than the fact that they are coming from a non-Western country.

Conclusion: Immigrant women comprise a vulnerable group, with a poor socio-economic status. This situation exposes immigrant women to increased risk of induced abortion. In a society with an increasing heterogeneous population, the vulnerable situation of immigrant women has to be addressed, if equal access to health care is to be maintained.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Induced / economics
  • Abortion, Induced / statistics & numerical data*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Denmark / epidemiology
  • Emigrants and Immigrants*
  • Employment
  • Female
  • Healthcare Disparities
  • Humans
  • Maternal Age
  • Odds Ratio
  • Pregnancy
  • Socioeconomic Factors*
  • Vulnerable Populations